Looking for a way to replace the plastic used for food and beverage packaging, which make up two-thirds of the world’s plastic waste, scientists at TIPA have developed a material with plastic-like durability, flexibility and transparency, but, unlike plastics, it is 100% compostable.
The startup says that its technology is inspired by nature. Like the skin of an orange that perfectly protects the fruit inside and once discarded decomposes.
TIPA’s packaging works for a wide variety of products such as fresh produce, frozen goods, and apparel, according to company statements. The compostable materials are partially made of plant-based ingredients like corn.
A number of supermarkets in Europe have introduced the innovative packaging for fresh fruits and some major clothing designers are now sending their online sales wrapped in TIPA’s degradable packaging. Estimates say that the new technology has already prevented the use of 100’s of tons of plastics from polluting the earth.
Google announced last week that the company will begin using TIPA’s packaging to ship its products purchased on Google’s shopping site.
Headquartered in Hod Hasharon, a town in central Israel, TIPA employs about 40 people and has raised nearly $24 million to date, according to a Calcalist interview with Merav Koren, TIPA’s vice president of marketing.
Israel still lags behind many nations in reducing the use of plastics and their damaging effects on the environment. In Israel, shoppers pay a deposit of NIS 0.3 (about 9 cents) on small drinking bottles and cans, which can be redeemed for recycling. On bottles over 1 liter there is no charge, and while there are recycling bins in every town and city across the country, most people don’t bother to use them. A new law was passed in 2017 requiring supermarkets to charge NIS 0.1 (approximately three cents) for plastic bags used to bag groceries. While these efforts have reduced some of the plastics used in Israel, most of the plastics used for packaging and other products, which make up close to 70 percent of all plastics, still end up in the parks, waterways and garbage heaps around the country.
Perhaps the international success of TIPA will inspire the local population and businesspeople that there is a better way to enjoy the practical advantages of plastic, while also protecting our precious and vulnerable environment.